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MEET THE PEOPLE Teni Stuffman, executive director of business development at VAS2Nets Technologies

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Teni Stuffman, is executive director of business development at VAS2Nets Technologies working in the telecommunications and payment industry in west and east African countries. A driving force behind the current leading position of VAS2Nets Payment and Technologies within the business development arena in West Africa with in-depth knowledge of convergent communications technology, mobile banking services, payments integration and direct career billing implementations in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.

Which countries or regions do you feel represent the greatest opportunity for telemedia services?

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the digital landscape around the world most especially in Africa. Mobile penetration in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon has largely risen to the challenge of keeping individuals and businesses connected during the pandemic, mobile penetration has helped the payment industry, currently maturing at an exponential pace.

This is reflected in the profile of the firms, the breadth of coverage, the increasing level of global connection, opportunities for innovation and rising levels of profitability. Confidence in the industry is rising, and this is underpinned by some flagship success stories recorded in recent time.

Which content and/or applications do you see being the most likely to benefit from telemedia billing and/or marketing technologies?

Consumption of payment services within the Africa ecosystem continues to grow since the launch of mobile money in Kenya powered by Safaricom, Mobile payments and Direct career billing has evolved at dynamic pace across, with several payment providers positioning themselves by offering credible B2B and B2C options across consumer parallels. Usage of payment services by incumbents also continues to rise, as notable banks continue to partner with us to cover the key customer segments.

Do you think that Direct Carrier Billing can become mainstream and in which markets?

Digital service trend is increasing, gaming, streaming, educational content, health, and wellness, and many more, merchants are creating seamless user experiences with products familiar to the customers. Because customers here want solution that will contribute meaningfully to their everyday life, payment access are drivers for content growth. Ease of payment remains vital and smart phone penetration will continue to rise to unlock broader consumer base.

Not everyone has a credit or debit card or bank account to pay with, as service competition accelerates post-Covid19, giving consumers access to preferences is essential for customer satisfaction, DCB is an option that works perfectly within the African markets.  There’s need to amend regulations in certain areas between the payment and telecoms regulator. the prevailing concern is around the lack of clarity and certainty on the regulation of emerging segments such as cryptocurrency, digital ledger technology, etc. as over regulation may stifle innovation which currently limits the extent to which DCB can be leveraged in African market.

What are the key drivers and inhibitors for growth?

The mobile telecoms and payment industry is maturing and continues to grow. There remains a high degree of optimism, however the industry is facing some scale-up challenges. Two fundamental foundations for continued success will include the level of effective collaboration with major players and the level of government support.

Do you see affiliate marketing being a primary, trusted channel for telemedia propositions or do you think alternative routes to market will become more popular?

Payment is a major focus for investors and financial inclusion objectives depends on growth in infrastructure supporting mobile payments as cashless is pivotal to digital penetration, a type of performance-based marketing is growing within the digital payment industry, fuelled by favourable demand supporting adoption of mobile payments, as well as growth in mobile penetration.

What are they likely to be?  

The strength of the payment ecosystem is underpinned by individual and interconnected strengths across each of the key attributes. Providing payments and account solutions for consumers and financial institutions with incentives and solutions to increase market adoption, providing value added services which Includes mobile money and wallets, digital banks, payment processors, and payments back-end infrastructure providers.

How likely is it that crypto currencies will become popular telemedia/mobile payment mechanisms for premium content, services and applications?

Africa has witnessed growing cryptocurrency adoption, driven by a predominantly young digital-savvy population, inflationary local currency, stringent foreign exchange policies on both inflows and outflows, and a high demand for remittances among Africa’s diasporas. Nevertheless, regulatory stance on cryptocurrency is currently antagonistic hence crypto currencies will remain popular for peer-to-peer trading and not for premium content services and applications until regulators adopt it.

What have been the most significant affects of Covid19 on the market and have you taken any “positives” from such a challenging set of circumstances?

In African markets, Covid 19 has driven the financial inclusion agenda as a major deliverable for the cashless agenda. Demand for technology enabled financial services and products are now on the rise to churn the percentage of financially excluded adults in the continent. (e.g., Nigeria reduced from 41.6 per cent in 2016 to 36.8 per cent in 2018). Some factors buttressing the adoption of mobile payment services include faceless onboarding, micro saving opportunities, remote working business models etc.

In the next 12 months what key technical developments or innovations do you feel will have the most positive impact on mCommerce (VAS / mobile payments / marketing)?

Looking at today’s challenges and opportunities, as well as learnings from international ecosystems, there’s possibility of increased collaborations with players within the industry and the eco-system, there will be newer business models and opportunity to digitize existing infrastructure for banks and other industries, exploration of more markets in Africa, and progressing towards a more diverse and inclusive industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also presented unique opportunities for payment providers like VAS2Nets to accelerate innovation and transformation across financial services and beyond, with emergent cross-border considerations like increasing digital adoption due to heightened physical restrictions, and potential changes to work habits with remote working as the new norm.

Your words of wisdom: On a more personal level, what is the most inspiring piece of advice that has seen you through a life in business to this day and who gave that advice to you?

  • Get use to investing in people it trickles into your relationship habit
  • Be diligent in the area of visioning, what guarantees attention is clarity of vision
  • Make investments in quality decisions, in area of commitment. Don’t misplace involvement for commitment.
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